One of the main statements I hear from Mormons is that "Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation."
Typically, they will cite verses such as John 3:5, and Mark 16:16, as proof texts that appear to them, to be in favor of their questions.
Below is a response to the critics who rip these verses out of context. When we let the Bible tell us what is says, rather than trying to force it to say what we want it to say, we can see the truth of the meaning/
“A basic principle of Bible interpretation is that difficult passages should be interpreted in light of the easy, clear verses. One should never build a theology on difficult passages. The clear verses indicate that one is saved by faith in Christ (John 3:16-17; Acts 16:31)
In Mark 16:16 it is clear that it is unbelief that brings damnation, not a lack of being baptized: “he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” When a person rejects the gospel, refusing to believe it, that person is damned.
Other verses in Scripture support the view that baptism is not necessary for salvation.
1. Jesus told the repentant thief, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The thief was saved without a baptism.
2. In Acts 10, Cornelius exercised faith in Christ and was clearly saved prior to being baptized in water. The moment Cornelius believed in Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out in him (Acts 10:45).
3. In 1 Corinthians 1:17 the apostle Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel”. Here a distinction is made between the gospel and being baptized. We are told elsewhere that it is the gospel that brings salvation (1 Corinthians 15:2). And baptism is not a part of that gospel."
(Geisler and Rhodes, Correcting the Cults)